An Unclear Mission

The Jesus Mission by Steven K. Scott


Despite the warning that we should not judge a book by its cover, in the case of The Jesus Mission we are left with few other options. The title insinuates that the four missions that Christ assigns to you and me will be outlined such that we can take them up. Unfortunately, when the reader turns the pages of the Steven Scott’s book, the premise fails to materialize. The author relates story after miraculous story in the lives of people that the author knows but never comes to a point in the poorly organized text.

Author Scott is a rags-to-riches promoter who claims more than once that his monetary and business success is a result of reading the book of Proverbs. In the introductory pages, Scott points out that we as Christians can partner with Christ to pursue four lifelong missions, answering the question “what does God want from me.” The four missions are to become more intimate with God, accelerate your personal growth, empower other believers to better follow Christ and to impact the lives of nonbelievers. The pages devoted to these missions amounts to a scant 22 percent of the entire book, causing Scott to delve into myriad other areas in order to fill out the book.

Digging further into book, the reader is left to wonder who the target audience is. Part three, for example, is entitled What You Never Knew About Jesus That Will Change Your Life. Turning the page to the chapters that follow once again finds the author floundering in fulfillment of his premise. There is nothing in the pages that is wrong, but there is also nothing that growing Christians do not already know. Was this section of the book intended to underpin the ‘missions’ section? If so, the reader would have been better served to have this supporting material interspersed throughout the missions and task lists giving encouragement and edification.

Discovering one’s calling in Christ requires prayer, study and meditation on the scriptures. You can begin by turning to Matthew 28:18-20, committing your life to the words of the Savior therein and then allowing the Holy Spirit to guide your steps going forward. Simple. Sadly, the complexity and organization The Jesus Mission is anything but.

I am grateful to Waterbrook Press who provided this copy for review.

Psalm 81 – If You Would But Listen to Me


Hear, O my people, and I will warn you—If you would but listen to me, O Israel!

You shall have no foreign god among you; you shall not bow down to an alien god.

I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of Egypt.

Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.  (Ps 81:8-9)

When we encounter verses such as this in the Bible, two things occur. We wonder how it is possible that Israel could waver in their loyalty to Yahweh. After all, they were in such immediate contact with His miraculous redemption and knew His power intimately. How does one turn away from that?

As we read in the Old Testament, apparently very easily.

“But my people would not listen to me; Israel would not submit to me.

So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices. (vv 11-12)

The second that occurs is that the Spirit within speaks to us and reminds us of our own stiff neck. The fact that the Spirit speaks to you in moments of temptation to disobedience or disloyalty puts you in the same immediacy. You have within yourself the intimacy with God that Israel shared through words and common experience. All you have to do is listen.

You know the transformation that God has wrought in you. He has released you from bondage to your Enemy, freed you from the constraints of a corrupted heart. All He asks is that you listen, that you follow His ways.

That’s not so hard, is it?

Grace and peace to you..


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Psalm 40 Many Will See and Fear


Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but my ears you have pierced; burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require.

Then I said, “Here I am, I have come—it is written about me in the scroll.

I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart. (vv 6-8)

Before even opening the door to our prayer closets, the first thing we should do is evaluate the attitude that we have carried to that point. An idea that is repeated throughout the whole of scripture is the importance to God of our obedience over our offerings and actions. Sadly, the emphasis on holiness has lost out to the church of felt needs and community services. We have replaced obedience with activity.

It appears that two different prayers were concatenated within this psalm. In verses 1-10, the liturgist expresses contrition and recognition that the troubles we face are of our own making and the result of our sin. The voice of gratitude uses very familiar language to express thanks for the innumerable times that the Lord has pulled us from the pit.

I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and hear my cry.

He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.

He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.

Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord. (vv 1-3)

The closing verses of the psalm are a plea for help once again. Though he recognizes his part in the creation of these troubles, the psalmist does not hesitate to reach out again (and again) for the help of the Lord. We need never question our trust in this deliverance but we should always turn back to the highlighted verses in our bibles (get your pen right now) in verses 6 through 8. Obedience is the core of the psalm and obedience is to be at the core of our lives.



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Lent 2009 – 15 Steps to the Cross


Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. For, “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever.” (1 Peter 1:22-25)

How would you rate the love and fellowship in the Church? In your church the fellowship might be genuine and loving, but what about the church at large. There is a fellowship crisis that mirrors the alienation of the larger culture. This runs contrary to Peter’s exhortation to realize the before and after of one’s conversion. Those redeemed by the Savior have a new heart, a heart that is now capable of deeply loving others despite their human faults and struggles.

These last few verses conclude a passage on how holiness is something that we are to pursue and something that we are. The purification that comes of obedience to the Spirit within has as its result a holiness that becomes more Christ-like as we mature. This new nature has as one of its fruits the love of even the unlovable. Whether it be within our church or out in the streets, love must become one of our identifying characteristics.

Have you expressed holy love today?

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Lent 2009 – 39 Steps To The Cross


When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”

Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”

When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.

When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.

Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men.” So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him. (Luke 5:4-11)

In Luke’s gospel we see a much more vivid picture of the man Peter and his introduction to Jesus. The Lord is watching the disappointed fisherman clean their nets after laboring hard all night without any reward and his first test is to ask them to put their boats back out into the lake so that he might teach the crowds. Andrew and Simeon comply, sitting back against the gunwales to listen to the young Rabbi. When Jesus finished, he turned to the fisherman and invited him to put his freshly cleaned and bundled nets back in the water. Do we see the immediately obedient Peter? No, we see the tired and cranky Peter who attempts to dissuade the Lord from fulfilling His mission. Does he not know any better? Do we view our own hesitance as stumbling blocks?

When Peter does obey on the word of the Teacher, he is shocked at the immediate results of doing so as he watches his nets bulge to the breaking point. So Peter’s obedience has resulted in abundant reward, like an ancient prosperity gospel but the greater reward is still to be realized. As Peter becomes aware of the one who has rewarded him, he begs him to go away since he knows that he is in no condition to be in the presence of holiness. (Does this sound familiar to us?) Jesus is not deterred, however, from assembling his team and he calls on Peter to follow him.

Peter, looking at all of the new found riches flopping about in his nets, does so without hesitation.

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Gideon’s First Steps of Obedience

The divine fire that consumed Gideon’s offering reignited his fear as well. Suddenly realizing who he he was facing, Gideon wailed about his imminent destruction upon seeing the face of the Lord. God’s response expresses his desire, saying “Shalom!” Be at peace and without fear. Gideon’s response is worship, building an altar and giving it the name that we can hang on to this day, the Lord is Complete Shalom.


The Lord wastes no time in revelry of the worship. He calls and Gideon obeys. While his response to the appearance of the Lord is to be properly pious, the fear in his heart remains. The first steps of obedience that he must take are to follow the Lord’s instructions in destroying the altar to Baal and the Asherah pole that stands beside it. Not just any altar, but one constructed by his own father.

It would be one thing of God to ask him to challenge the status quo in an anonymous fashion, you know, go knock down some stranger’s altar; cut down the pole in some distant faceless village. It is another thing entirely to confront those closest to you and stand up in obedience to their beliefs and behaviors. We’re called to act in this same obedience even when confronted by our family and friends. There may be an enormous cost to pay but what choice do we have? We can attempt to evade the responsibility much as we saw Gideon do. Will God give up? No. We can claim fear and weakness. Will God give up and move on? No. We can even go so far as to demand a sign in our ferret-like attempt to squirm away from the call but God will not be deterred in His purpose. Yes, there may be an enormous cost to pay but in light of the cost that was paid on our behalf, can you argue any further?

Gideon acts in obedience, carrying the theme of the entire book of Judges. He demolishes the altar and topples the Asherah pole, using it as fuel for another sacrificial fire. He is still fearful, acting in the dark of night, but he takes those first few important steps. He has counted the cost and decided for the Lord. He has decided to cut through the duality of Israel – calling out to God for redemption while continuing the Baal worship in its midst – and at personal risk, follow God in obedience. What will the morning bring?